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GOP Victories Will Be Symbolic, Not Substantial

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When Barack Obama was elected in 2008, the Democrats controlled the White House, the House of Representatives and had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. It should have been smooth sailing.

Instead, our president spent the last few years complaining about that dastardly minority opposition and accomplishing very little. He hasn't closed Guantanamo, he hasn't brought home our troops from Iraq (as he promised to do the very day he took office "not six months from now"), and his one major legislative accomplishment, the health care overhaul, was ruled in part unconstitutional by a federal court and cost Democrats many a close election last November. He can't even take too much credit for ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell, as he could have ended it by Executive Order much earlier in his presidency.

It's interesting, then, that now that Republicans have gained control back of just the House of Representatives all eyes are on them to see what issues they will act on in this new session. Without the majority in the Senate and without the presidency, the House victory is mostly symbolic yet still very important. As a Wall Street Journal editorial notes:

Merely in taking the gavel, Mr. Boehner will fulfill his most important mandate, which is stopping the damage done by the two Pelosi Congresses. To adapt the Hippocratic Oath, first there will be no more economic harm. The GOP has already achieved a major victory on this score by preventing the tax increase that had been scheduled for this week.

That success alone seems to have had a cheering effect on the country's economic mood, with businesses talking about new investment and investors bidding up stocks. "Minority Leader Pelosi" are three of the happiest words in the capitalist language.

So it will be for the next session that Republicans in the House, more than anything else, will be tasked with setting a tone. Much as conservatives would like to see action on immigration, reform of bloated entitlement programs and more tax cuts, we should be prepared to win smaller battles instead of larger wars. Republicans in the House should push the issues which elected them: smaller government, lower spending and creating a setting in which industrious Americans, and not the federal government, can "create jobs."

For the foreseeable future, the message will have to be more important than the action.

Born in the Soviet Union and raised in Brooklyn, Karol Markowicz is a public relations consultant in NYC and a veteran of Republican campaigns in four states. She blogs about politics at Alarming News and about life in the city with her husband and baby at 212 Baby. She can be followed on Twitter.